Lawmakers mull medical pot cultivation, drones near prisons

Published 02-16-2019

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ATLANTA (AP) - The Georgia legislature is beginning to pick up its pace as the 2019 session approaches the half-way mark. Friday marked legislative day 16 of 40.

The past week saw the governor sign his first bill, a measure that clarifies when vehicles can pass a school bus. A new bill in the House would allow for some cultivation of medical marijuana, while the Senate moved to crack down on drones near prisons.

Here is a look at some of the recent activity at the Georgia Capitol:

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

A new bill in the Georgia House would allow the production and sale of medical marijuana oil within the state.

The measure introduced Thursday would allow patients who are already approved to possess low potency marijuana oil access to the product. It is currently illegal to grow, process, buy, sell, or transport the drug.

Families who say they have been forced to break the law to get the drug for their loved ones hope the measure will pass.

"I'm tired of having to meet people in parking lots. I'm tired of hearing stories of parents buying weed on the street and making oil in their kitchens," said Shannon Cloud, mother of a 13-year-old girl with a seizure disorder.

Republican Rep. Micah Gravley of Douglasville authored the bill and said it would provide safe access to low-potency medical marijuana for more than 8,000 patients

Families who say they have been forced to break the law to get the drug for their loved ones hope the measure will pass.

"I'm tired of having to meet people in parking lots. I'm tired of hearing stories of parents buying weed on the street and making oil in their kitchens," said Shannon Cloud, mother of a 13-year-old girl with a seizure disorder.

Republican Rep. Micah Gravley of Douglasville authored the bill and said it would provide safe access to low-potency medical marijuana for more than 8,000 patients in the state.

PASSING SCHOOL BUSES

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday signed a new law that aims to protect children from motorists at school bus stops.

The measure requires drivers traveling in the opposite direction toward a stopped school bus to stop when they meet the bus unless the two vehicles are separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or a physical barrier.

The law took effect immediately and aims to correct a problem created by legislation that passed last year. That law inadvertently removed a requirement that traffic traveling in the opposite direction of a school bus separated by a turn lane had to stop.

"For all the good intentions of that bill, it did

Republican Rep. Micah Gravley of Douglasville authored the bill and said it would provide safe access to low-potency medical marijuana for more than 8,000 patients in the state.

PASSING SCHOOL BUSES

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday signed a new law that aims to protect children from motorists at school bus stops.

The measure requires drivers traveling in the opposite direction toward a stopped school bus to stop when they meet the bus unless the two vehicles are separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or a physical barrier.

The law took effect immediately and aims to correct a problem created by legislation that passed last year. That law inadvertently removed a requirement that traffic traveling in the opposite direction of a school bus separated by a turn lane had to stop.

"For all the good intentions of that bill, it did create a dilemma and a safety situation for our schoolchildren," said Republican Rep. Ginny Ehrhart of Powder Springs, one of the legislation's main supporters.

DRONE ACTIVITY AND PRISONS

A bipartisan proposal that passed the Senate on Thursday bans on the use of drones to deliver contraband - including cell phones, drugs and weapons - inside jails and prisons. It also bans drones from taking pictures inside these facilities without permission from the facility's warden or superintendent.

"We know that technology sometimes outpaces the law," said the bill's author, Republican Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick. She said the new measure should effectively regulate issues related to contraband and photographs.

Smuggling contraband is already banned by state law but Kirkpatrick's proposal adds specific criminal penalties for using a drone to do so. Violators would be punishable as a felony and carry a sentence of one to 10 years in prison.

The drone bill now goes to the House.

DENSE BREAST TISSUE REPORTING

A bill that would require health care facilities to notify patients if they have dense breast tissue after conducting a mammogram passed the Georgia House on Monday.

These facilities would also have to provide a summary to patients that states the condition can make it more difficult for a breast exam to detect cancer.

The bill aims to make female patients better informed about their cancer risks. Its main sponsor is Republican Rep. Sharon Cooper of Marietta, chairman of the Health & Human Services Committee.

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